camping

Camptathalon 2018

Since I already “spoiled” the Camptathalon big picture, I figure I might as well post the Official Camptathalon Log sooner than usual. Usually this works as a wonderful retrospective of the fun and frivolity of a weekend-long competition. This year, it’s a half-completed afterthought. There are very few things more awe-inspiring than my drunken wit, but I suppose bears and fires are two of them. Damn you, Nature!

By the way, “Chris” is the noob this time around. His first Camptathalon. Regular readers will note there has also been a “Chris” in previous years. That Chris couldn’t make it this year, so we replaced him with another Chris. Like when soap operas change the actor for a character and hope nobody will notice. We like consistency. If I ever miss Camptathalon, they’ll have to find some other marsupial to take my place.

Friday:
5:45 So much for this being the only place in California that isn’t on fire.
drive in3
6:05 Tony, Chris, and Rick arrive.
6:40 Swisher Sweets, cause we be fancy
6:42 Wisconsin Lunch Box and Official Camptathalon Flag are present, but cannot be unfurled yet. Backstage, waiting for the Opening Ceremonies.
7:10 Sparky arrives.
7:23 Chris: “Who brought that 49ers cooler? I might have to piss on that.”
7:24 Chris’s first official timestamp. Camptathalon Cherry broken.
7:41 Pink axe, cause we be fancy.
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7:50 Trophy presented.
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7:55 Flag is up.
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7:57 Chris: “I’m a Clamper. Can I take a picture of that? Some people don’t like their picture taken.”
8:00 Camptathalon 2018 opens with Official Toast.

8:03 Chili is served. But no beans, so it’s not real chili.
8:04 Chili Cook: “Fuck you, asshole!”
8:20 Shit, they don’t take checks here. Do we have enough cash?
8:26 Pissed about cash. Write “Praise Allah” on the envelope.
8:28 Nothing says Manly Camping Trip like “Friday I’m in Love,” by the Cure.
8:29 Never mind. Richard Marx came on next.
8:30 This is Don Henley, you Dumbass.
8:31 Rick busts out the spelunking lamp.
8:32 Chris: “I usually don’t go to touristy camping spots like this.”
8:36 Upper Deck 1990 Baseball Cards opened. Fortunately the toilet is a vault, so we can’t have a celebratory upper decker.
8:37 “I hope I find the 1990s Rockies Hologram.” “Keep looking, Rick.” (Editor’s Note: The Rockies did not exist until 1993.)
8:43 Poker. Whiskey. Which will be finished first?
9:30 Rick confirms that the Loser Libation is in the category of: Beer.
9:37 “Can you hand me the Pube?”
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9:45 Turning in all the white (25-cent) chips. “Somewhere, Al Sharpton is having a wet dream.”
9:54 Rick and Tony in dead heat for Loser Libation.
10:16 Tony “wins” the Loser Libation, which is… A 40 oz. Bud Ice.
10:20 Instead of whiskey with a beer chaser, it’s beer with a whiskey chaser.
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10:34 “On the way up, I came up with a great idea for when we’re around the campfire… And I’ll tell you later. When we’re around the campfire.”
10:38 “I am the Ape.”
10:57 Rick and Sparky go all in. Chris wins. How do we score that? Rick and Sparky go five cards, all up, for Camptathalon points.
10:58 Camptathalon standings: Chris – 4, Sparky – 2, Rick – 1, Tony – 0
10:59 What Chris doesn’t realize is he has to buy breakfast on Sunday. Fucking newbie.
11:03 Sparky: “How many points does Tony have?”
11:08 Loser Libation is finished.
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11:09 Rick: “How many points does Tony have?”
11:21 “This is the last time I played horseshoes, mind you.”
11:23 Sparky’s shoes catch fire.
11:38 Chris is brought into the eternal “Was Guns n’ Roses a hair band?” debate. He answers correctly. Yes.
11:44 “If you say Nirvana was a great band, I will kick you in the balls.”
11:58 “What was the end of the innocence?”
11:59 Fucking Richard Marx
12:05 Goddam pussies (Sparky & Rick) go to bed.
1:00 Nose to nose w/ bear. Chris scared him away. On second thought, maybe we shouldn’t have left the beef jerky out on the table.

Saturday
7:23 “I usually don’t say this, but I’m glad I vomitted last night.”
7:26 “I like Jameson. But I don’t think it likes me.”
7:34 Storm Davis. Hey, isn’t that who Trump was banging?
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7:52 “This is not the worst I’ve ever felt at Camptathalon, but it isn’t the best.”
7:53 “I need a sausage.”
8:37 Chris busts out the bloody marys. maries?
9:34 “I don’t like fishing, but I do like sitting by a river, drinking beer.”
9:45 Cribbage. Teaching Sparky for, like, the seventh time.
10:55 1-4-24 begins.
11:18 Rick to Sparky: “You Asshole.”
11:42 Let’s double the stakes.
11:44 One tie, all tie. $16 in the pot.
11:50 Home Run Derby
12:00 Tony hits the longest HR in Derby History (estimated 240′) but doesn’t hit any more.
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12:27 Tony is the Trent Dilfer of Home Run Derby: 1 homer in round one, 1 homer in round 2, 6 homers in final round.
12:28 Camptathalon standings after two events: Chris – 4, Tony – 4, Mark – 4, Rick – 2
12:29 Chris busts out a fruit tray. “What the hell is that?” “Vitamin C.” “Couldn’t we just take pills for that?”
12:44 The eternal butter toss debate: soft or firm?
1:12 The less time tossing butter, the better.
1:34 The butter toss is coming.
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1:42 We all hate butter toss. If we could vote, we’d all vote to take it out. That’s why we can’t vote.
1:48 Fine. Let’s get this over with.

(Editor’s Note: To be Equal Opportunity, Obama has also been the target in the past, albeit not in tennis Depends)
1:58 Rick wins butter toss, complaining the entire time.
1:59 Camptathalon standings after three events: Mark – 6, Rick – 6, Tony – 5, Chris – 4
2:18 Let’s go to the resort. Let’s go to the mall… today.
2:39 Resort was evacuated while we were waiting for a beer. What the fuck?
2:40 I’m going to something a little more official than the bartender at a cabin before I start packing up.
2:43 Should we get another event in really quick so it doesn’t end in a tie?
2:55 “Gentlemen, you are under a mandatory evacuation order.”
3:00 Camptathalon called on account of fire evacuation. Fuck you, Bud Selig.
evacuation

Can’t Stand the Heat

The 2018 version of Camptathalon was scheduled to take place last weekend. It lasted less than 24 hours, but might be one of the most eventful camping trips in, I don’t know, ever?

For those unfamiliar, Camptathalon is an annual extravaganza amongst me and my friends. We sequester ourselves from civilized society and engage in something approximating a competition of athleticism and wit. Well, it is definitely a competition. The approximation refers to the athleticism and the wit.

Three years ago we had the brilliant idea to keep track of the frivolity and posting the log here. The result is usually pages and pages of inside jokes, “that’s what she said”-level humor, and comments that would get me kicked off a “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise, ad infinitum, ad nauseaum.

And yeah, the truncated log of this year’s frivolities does exist. It will appear around here in the near future. But the adventure of Camptathalon 2018 was not the stuff that happened between the metaphorical foul lines. To properly explain what happened, we must go beyond the “7:03 PM Can cunt-bubble be a verb?”

We had a noob this year. He’s not a camping noob; this guy probably camps circles around the rest of us. The spot we picked, which the rest of us call “remote,” he refers to as “touristy camping.” So he knows how to camp, he’s just never done it with a Wisconsin lunchbox, a SC Gamecocks flag, and an eternally-present notebook to keep track of things for posterity.

He also sucks at whiffle ball homerun derby, which I’m thankful for, because it allowed yours truly to advance into the second round with a mighty score of one. Another guy flamed out in round two and I made it to the third round with a grand total of two homers, at which point I launched six and won the whole thing, the whiffle ball equivalent of Nick Foles.

Sorry, this isn’t supposed to be about the actual Camptathalon. I just couldn’t resist. Did I mention one of my homers went an estimated 240 feet?

Fine, fine, I’ll talk about the bear.

Oh yeah, did I mention there was a bear? Seriously. The Noob went nose-to-nose with a motherfucking bear.

It happened Friday night, which ended up being the only night of camping. The rest of us had gone to sleep. The first two went down around midnight. I know because I timestamped it in the log. I don’t know when I went down, but I’m guessing it was around 12:30. Noob “stayed up,” meaning he passed out in a sitting position at the campsite table while waiting for the fire to die down.

What happened next is a bit of hearsay, but it’s the hearsay of a drunk person roused from being passed out, and if we can’t trust a barely cognizant guy after 10+ beers, who can we trust?

Noob claims he felt some breathing on him, so he woke up to a bear about three feet from his face. He claims he startled himself awake, making enough noise to make the bear turn and run. This may seem unrealistic, but California grizzlies are notoriously skittish. Had it been a Montana Black Bear, Noob and the rest of us might not have fared so well. And he assures us it was out of shock and surprise, not a wily survival instinct.

My favorite part of this story (other than the fact that none of us were mauled by a bear, of course) is that, after chasing a bear off, Noob had the sense of mind to turn around and timestamp the encounter in the Official Log. Otherwise none of us might have known, because he needed to be reminded when he woke up the next morning. That’s the point of the Log, of course!

Again, the story might sound like bullshit, which was our first reaction when we saw the 1:00 AM timestamp. But then we looked in the dirt. Paw prints more or less corroborated his story. Distinctive steps coming forward, pausing a few feet away from the table, then a dusty splotch, and paws going back the other direction, farther apart from each other, implying the bear was trotting faster in that direction.

Shit, based on the physical evidence, Noob coulda said he wrestled the fucking bear and we woulda had to believe him. Especially if that was written in the Log, because if it’s written in the Log, it’s true. Just like Wikipedia.

After the bear left, Noob decided to clean up a little bit. On the table, right behind where he had been passed-out sitting was a bunch of beef jerky we had left out. It was that jerky, I presume, and not the empty bottle of Jameson’s nor my sleeping friend, that the bear was sniffing.

I know, I know. Probably not the best idea to leave fresh jerky out on the table with bears around. We mentioned this thought earlier. But, in our defense, we figured that if it was bear country, there would be bear lockers.

Also, in our defense, we intended to clean up anyway, but we were pretty inebriated. That’s usually an acceptable defense, right? I’d be a wonderful public defender, right? “Your honor, my client drove under the influence, but in his defense, he was fucking wasted.”

Noob put the jerky away, wrote the timestamp in the Official Log, double-checked the fire, then went to pass out. Again.

And, had Saturday gone according to plan, that bear might’ve been the story of the weekend. But within fourteen hours, the bear was a footnote. And no, not just because of my HR Derby win.

What happened Saturday? Well, I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but the entire state of California is pretty much en fuego right now. And I don’t mean that we’re in a good groove. I mean the entire state is ablaze. I think at last count there were 175 fires, each burning over a half-million acres with approximately twelve percent containment.

In the time it took you to read the last sentence, we’re up to 178 fires.

The two fires that are getting the most attention right now are the stupidly-named Carr Fire and the Mendocino Complex. I don’t know if that one has a catchy title, but I do know that it was two or more fires that combined forces a la The Avengers or Voltron to become the largest fire in California history. How’s that for some teamwork, gentlemen?

Southern California is even getting in on the fun this year. Usually they sit fire-season out, but decided to add one this year in a show of either camaraderie or competition. See? The Supreme Court knew what they were doing when they threw that ballot measure to split the state in three off the ballot. Who needs democracy when you’ve got sibling rivalry? GROUP HUG!

The Southern California fire is called the Holy Fire. That’s a pretty fucking cool name right there. I want my next job to be fire namer. Pretty sure it would be a full-time job in this state.

Of course, we were good, conscientious campers and picked one of the few places in the state that wasn’t on fire. Okay, not really. More like we had picked this place three months ago and it happened to still be standing. But fortune favors the bold, and we were super excited to get out of the Valley and see blue skies for the first time in a month. One of the guys sent out an e-mail to that effect on Wednesday, proudly proclaiming that we were going to one of the few places in California not on fire.

And no, he isn’t allowed to put anything in writing anymore.

Turns out a fire DID start sometime on Thursday. It was just a tiny speck by Friday morning, and really, even after it had grown past 15,000 acres by Monday, it still barely warranted a mention on the local news. So even if we had googled it after my friend’s ill-advised e-mail provoked Vulcan, we probably wouldn’t have known about it.

But as we drove up Highway 108 toward Sonora Pass, we saw a distant plume on the horizon. Then it turned into a curtain of smoke that we appeared to be driving directly into. Before before long it turned into HOLY CRAP WHEN DID THIS HIGHWAY TAKE A DETOUR THROUGH MARS? I’m pretty sure we could see flames, although that seems unlikely as the fire should’ve been about a thousand feet lower in elevation. So maybe it was just the smoldering asscrack of Beelzebub, because something was lighting the underlayer of the smoke hanging over the canyon to our left.

(The Road In)

Then again, I’ve recently learned that silly things like giant granite cliffs and lakes and land that was burned just last year don’t do shit to slow down California fires these days. They’ve evolved. Adapt or die, motherfucker. You’re in the FIRE’S house now!

“Should we… should we…,” the conversation went inside my car. Turn around? might have been spoken aloud once or twice, but we usually tried to keep that line of reasoning on the down-low. Because if nobody says it, then we don’t have to acknowledge it. Manly man logic! And if that fire wants to fuck with my weekend plans, I will fucking jam a two-by-four up its ass and take a straight shot of testosterone chaser.

Besides, we weren’t all in the same car, and there’s no way we can communicate with the other cars, because we’re out of cell range. Sure, one’s right in front of us, but HE isn’t slowing down, so it’s go, go, go. I know how to play chicken. Passive aggressive indecision is the true mark of modern man.

Plus, I was pretty sure that we still had another ten miles or so to go to get to our campsite. Plus another 1,000 feet in elevation gain. Two thousand feet up and ten miles away? Please. This fire’s got nothing on us. I’ll eat its children for dinner.

Or at least, I’ll eat something that its much smaller brethren cooked for me. Mmm… sausages.

(This was the fire in the distance shortly after setting up camp)

When we made it to the campsite, we could see the distant plume once again, rising in the western sky like a signal flare. But it was distant. And it was going straight up. And, pshaw, we could see blue sky above it. And above us. We’ll be fine. It’s not like there’s anything capable of burning around here.

Hey, can you grab all of those pine cones for kindling, please?

When we woke up Saturday morning, the smoke was gone. Huzzah! They must have jumped on that fire early and squashed it in its infancy. Such a capital idea. Perhaps we should try putting other fires out before they can spread.

I’m a fucking fire whisperer, man. I can name them, and I can tell people the proper time to fight them. I offer my services to the State of California. Out, and I’m still waiting for a call from Arte Moreno, because i posted in December, 2012, that the Josh Hamilton signing was a bad idea. Don’t sign a baseball player who has admitted to quitting on his team before and stop the fires before they spread. How am I not a millionaire?

By the way, I still don’t know where the smoke went overnight, but it was gone until about 10:00 Saturday morning. Does smoke go to sleep at night? I know winds can shift, but the plume should’ve been visible even if it was travelling away from us.

Maybe the Noob wrestled it away along with the Montana Black Bear. And the Alligator.

Then the wind shifted and the smoke started coming our direction.

Of course, the wind shifting had nothing to do with that 240′ whiffle home run I hit. That was all muscle and technique, baby! Oh, and the whiffle balls have been so beat up over time that they’re about ninety percent duct tape by now, which may or may not be more aerodynamic that a swiss-cheesed bit o’ plastic.

Regardless, when the air around us started to get a little hazy, we thought it might be a good idea to stop drinking. It’s a tough choice, because if we decide to pack up and leave, it’s advisable to be somewhat sober. But what happens if we DO end up staying? We might be upsetting the camping gods, who live by the mantra of “Camping without beer is just sleeping outside.”

Around 2:00 in the afternoon, we walked across to the resort, which is really just a couple of cabins, a grocery store, and a bar. In theory, we were going as a sort-of All-Star Break, having reached the midpoint of the Camptathalon competition. Plus we were going to see if we could get some inside information on if we were going to die if we could start drinking.

The Forest Service had a map of the fire up, which was very nice of them. Evidently it had grown from 500 acres Friday morning to 1,000 acres Saturday morning. It was defined as “zero percent contained,” which feels like an odd phrasing. Does “nothing” really deserve a percentage designation? Are you TRYING to contain it? Or is this like me saying I’ve got about five hundred books that are zero percent written. If you count every random idea that’s ever entered my mind, Stephen King’s got nothing on me!

Still, we all felt pretty comfortable with the location of the fire. It was going east. We were south. There was a river and a number of roads between it and us. Plus that whole granite cliff. It would have to get into a very specific canyon to head up Highway 108.

We’re fine. Let’s grab a beer.

“Um…,” the bartender starts. “I’m not sure if we’re staying open. Let me see if I can serve you.”

She checks, then comes out. Wow, this might be the earliest I’ve ever been cut off in a bar.

“Yeah, we’re closed,” she continued after checking with her manager. “And we’re evacuating.”

Cut off before I’ve had a beer and kicked out of the bar when the sun’s still up. Both personal records to put in my Baby Book. But unlike most of my other water-hole evictions, this one was not accompanied by a round of applause.

Well, shit. What should we do now? One of the guys decided to buy a t-shirt on the way out. The cashier looked at him like he was nuts, but rang him up anyway. Huzzah, commerce!

By the time we got to the parking lot, everyone had the thousand-yard stare. The other would-be customers were standing in front of their cars, shrugging their shoulders as if that might help load up their trunks. The people we had talked to on our way in are still looking at the map, scratching their head. The map hasn’t changed. How can the fire be close if the map hasn’t changed? Everybody’s moving in slow motion. Although nobody’s really saying as much, everybody’s standing around as if the evacuation’s going to be reversed. Do evacuations get reversed? Doubtful. Then again, we’re not really sure if this evacuation is official or just an overzealous manager. Who knows? Maybe they’ll get the owner on the phone and be told to get the fuck back to work right this goddamn minute.

But that’s not likely to happen, and the people staying at the resort have to get going. The place they had booked was closing up shop, kicking them out. You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here.

But the four of us aren’t staying at the resort. We’re camping across the street. I’m going to need something a little more official than a jittery bartender before I pack up my shit. After all, we have full-weekend hall passes from the wives. And I’m not even halfway through my beer. The two-liter I filled with margaritas hasn’t even been opened yet.

Camptathalon is tied, for gods’ sake! We still have three events to go. We can’t be turning this into the 2002 All-Star Game.

Still, maybe we should hold off on the drinking.

What follows is an awkward half-hour. The four of us sit around the campsite, engaging in chit-chat, as the air grows hazier between us. The campground’s too quiet. Too still.

We throw out a few passing mentions of pushing on with the Camptathalon. But engaging in Camptathalon events without alcohol violates the spirit, and quite possibly the law, of the event. I haven’t looked at the non-existent bylaws recently, but if there isn’t a clause about sobriety invalidating any and all event results, there ought to be.

So we sit and stare. An even hushier hush comes over us as we see the forest ranger in her olive pants and canary shirt walking from campsite to campsite. And then she’s coming straight for us. Is this going to be a “be prepared” speech? Or is it going to be…

“Gentlemen, you’re under a mandatory evacuation order.”

What, we don’t even get a jovial greeting first? And just as I’m about to rouse my inner libertarian and ask her to define “mandatory,” after all this is federal or state land and dammit, it belongs to the people and remember when Harry R. Truman held his ground against Mount St. Helens? Viva la Revolucion! To the Bastille! Who’s with me?, she goes on…

“Do those tents belong to you? Yes? Nobody’s missing? Anybody down at the river?”

Wow, Sister Party Pooper. What’s crawled up your butt? You act like you have a whole fucking civilization to evict.

“Okay,” is what we actually answer. And while I really wanted to ask if DUI laws are suspended for the duraton, I think it’s best to just let it go.

Fifteen minutes later, we’re more or less ready to go. It was odd to pack up while not hungover, but somehow I managed. Because, to quote “Footloose,” sometimes we’re holding out for a hero.

evacuation

(This was the state of the sky when we were evacuated)
The only other decision we needed to make was whether we would turn west, toward the fire and our wives and our lives, or if we would go east. Tough decision. We had assumed those instructions would come with evacuation. We had also assumed the evacuation would be a little more, I don’t know, exciting? Air-raid sirens and martial law, like in the movies, not some random bureaucrat walking around sotto voce.

So east or west? On the one hand, we could probably get some cool visuals by driving into the fire. Sure, our lives might be at stake, but we do live in the society of miles-long back-ups on the highway just to lookie-loo at a minor fender bender. So that idea definitely had merits. The pictures I got on the way up didn’t do the fire justice.

On the other hand, our wives weren’t expecting us home until Sunday. And every movie about husbands returning home early ends poorly. So for the sakes of our wives and our marriages, we definitely should go east.

Oh, and did I mention that Nevada is to the east?

So a couple hours later, the four of us are inquiring about rooms at the Carson Valley Inn in Minden, NV. It’s not quite as rugged as was planned, but it’s not exactly a Vegas four-star. Although they’re not low-class enough to like our idea of sudden-death bocce on the casino floor in order to determine a Camptathalon champion. However, it being a casino, we were still able to inundate our clothes with the same amount of smoke as if we were sitting in front of a campfire.

Then again, I don’t think we would’ve won $50 on the Toronto Blue Jays at the Dardanelles resort.

And oh hey, check out what passed us, heading back the direction we came, while we were heading down the mountain:

That’s just a sampling. I didn’t start snapping pics till after the Humvees had gone by. There were about 12 to 15 military trucks in total. And that barbed wire looks well on its way to closing off a major thoroughfare. So it turned out that, even without considering casinos and sanchos, it was a wise decision to turn away from the fire. I wonder if there’s a correlation between not drinking and making wise decisions. I doubt it. No use t engage in any further experiments on this topic.

Once we were back in cell phone range, we could do a bit of research on what we now learned was being called the Donnell Fire. The information we had from Saturday morning, that it had grown from 500 to 1000 acres on Friday, was accurate but obsolete. On Saturday, the day we evacuated, the fire grew from 1000 acres to almost 6000 acres. Yeah, that’s quite a jump. It was still zero percent contained. Probably because every firefighter west of Montana was already fighting the other fires across the state.

Hell, I’m surprised they didn’t try to deputize us to fight the fire ourselves. After all, it’s recently been revealed that they’re using prison labor, at a price of $2 an hour, to fight the Carr Fire up north. I might need prevailing wage, though. Or they can just pay me in beer. It worked so well for the Rolling Stones at Altamont.

As fun as Minden was, though, I still felt the reservations may have been a little overzealous. I know, better safe than sorry and all that, but it seemed the fires was still going east, not south. We were still well outside the danger zone and the…

I’m sorry, what now? The owner of the resort tweeted something out on Sunday? Let me check it out…

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So, umm…. yeah. That’s the place we were staying across from, the bar that wouldn’t serve us, the store that my buddy bought a T-shirt at. So maybe the evacuation was a LITTLE bit warranted, even is we still had hours to spare. I stand a little bit corrected. So much for rivers and California highways and large granite faces in between. Fire has a mind of its own. Who knew?

It’s kinda sad that the Dardanelles is gone. The resort had been there in one incarnation or another since the 1920s. It was sold only a year or two ago. I hope the new owners didn’t decide to wait until it was profitable before shelling out for insurance.

I’ve only been there twice. Well, one-and-a-half times, now. The other regular camper and I went up there about a decade ago and we liked it. They had a fiddle concert there Saturday night. For the last decade, we kept saying we wanted to return there. I’m glad we actually decided go there this year. It won’t be an option next year, or for quite a few years after that.

And it’s kinda cool to be one of the last humans, or at least the last civilians, to walk through a place that was destroyed. It’ll be like my grandpa telling stories about Route 66. And the T-shirt my friend bought is a collector’s item now. I wonder if he had the sense to pay with credit card, because that might not have gone through.

And while Saturday night featured no fiddle playing this time, there was a cover band at the casino playing John Fogerty, which might as well be fiddle.

We might re-convene the competition in the Autumn, but of now, Fire is the official winner of Camptathalon 2018. Not as exciting as a Wombat victory, but more memorable. As shitty as the 2002 All-Star Game was, it’s the only one that I can remember what happened in. Bud Selig, meet Donnel Fire. Fire, this is Bud. You are equally destructive forces of chaos and nature.

At least we got the Butter Toss in.

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Camptathalon 2017

The Brain Trust is in the early stages of planning Camptathalon 2018, so there’s no better time to publish the shenanigans from 2017. I used to write these down as soon as we got home, but last year I flaked and didn’t transcribe until January. Then we decided that it was much more fun to remember the summer festivities in the miserable winter weather. So this is the new normal.

Of course, I live in California, so “miserable winter weather” means fifty degrees and occasional rain.

Then again, it’s been 70 this February, whereas last year’s Camptathalon was cold and rainy, so this might be serving the opposite purpose this year. In fact, we couldn’t go to the spot we had originally booked because it was snowed in. After five years of drought, we forgot about that whole “snow” thing. Probably for the best. The plan had been to go to the same campsite two years in a row, which is just wrong. Mother Nature intervened to maintain order in this chaotic world.

I should also note that, since it rained most of the day Friday, much more alcohol was consumed than usual.

You can read about the origins of Camptathalon here, but the tl;dr is that it is an, um, athletic? competitive? um, it’s a contest that takes place over a camping weekend betwixt four to six middle-aged men. We then timestamp everything that is said. Six months later I transcribe said script, with neither comment nor context, and we can all attempt to figure out why the fuck some drunks thought that was funny enough to write down six months ago.

Thursday Night (indeterminate time): Sparky and Tony show up.

Friday:
8:51 Sparky almost sets forest on fire, and he hasn’t even had a beer yet.
8:57 Early bird gets the worm. Dude, it’s almost, 9:00, lazy bird.
9:26 Rick shows up.
10:21 “Let’s do Home Run Derby over the creek.”
“That’s a horrible fucking idea.”100_5438.JPG
10:25 First Homo Moment: Rick and Sparky’s armrests brush up against each other.
10:52 “It’s starting to come. See? That’s a sizeable crack.”
10:58 Sparky reminisces about going to Butt Lake for the first time.
11:19 Chris arrives with Dick Butt. Tony photographs Dick Butt.100_5442.JPG
11:21 CHEESE BALLS!!!

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11:29 First “That’s what she said” of the weekend.
11:32 I paid 50 cents for a romance book by Christine Rimmer. Gonna be pissed if there are no rimjobs in it.
11:33 Hail
11:45 “There’s a flame!”
“Mother Nature blows better than I do.”
12:11 McGyver arrives with more tarps. Rain and hail ensue.100_5446.JPG
13:00 Everyone wants a Bangy Khan!
13:01 Sparky: “It’ll stop raining soon.” Bullshit.
13:03 Sun comes out. “You son of a bitch, Sparky.”
13:18 It would be a perfect day if it stopped raining. Kinda like it would be a perfect date if only she’d give me a blow job.
13:25 Re Donnie Moore: “Apparently he could locate a bullet better than a fastball.”
13:27 “At least we don’t need to worry about bears. They are fucking hibernating right now.”
13:34 Put Dick Butt in the bear locker. Bear might want to look at him before heading to class.
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13:58 Chris tells about something.
14:10 John arrives. Camptathalon may begin.100_5458.JPG
14:15 Hail, round three.
14:31 “What DOESN’T go with a 14-year old Thai whore?”
14:35 Entire kitchen blows over in wind.
14:49 First go thru of 1990 Topps Baseball Card set bought at thrift store.100_5450.JPG
14:59 Hail, Round Four
15:00 “I will see your Otis Nixon and raise you.”
15:12 “Chafing means ‘I Love You.'”
15:20 Where does Tony snore? See where the light touches.”
15:25 Hail, Round Five.
15:35 Official Camptathalon Opening Toast.20170609_152944.jpg
15:48 “I will share this with you because I’ve been drinking all day.”
16:20 First Camptathalon Event: Poker.
16:24 General discussion of point value for Camptathalon events. Reward winner (5 pts, 3, 2, 1, 0) or punish loser (5, 4, 3, 2, 0). Punish loser wins.
17:05 Re: weather. “Oh, it’s going to be fine.” “Fuck you.”
17:30 “I love balls. They’re so wrong, but they’re so good.”
17:37 Sparky “wins” loser libation by being first eliminated from poker. Loser libation is: Mickeys 40. “Don’t worry, I didn’t keep it cold.”100_5460.JPG
18:31 Loser Libation has been vanquished.
18:45 Rick out, John out. Losers start 1-4-24.
20:11 Rick is a cocksucker. 1-4-24, bitches.
20:50 Draft (Stolen from the Poscast): Best President: (Editor’s Note: Our drafts were snake style, so John picked Polk with pick #4 and JFK with Pick #5, Garfield was last pick of draft)
Tony                   Chris       Sparky      Rick           John
T.R.                    Lincoln   Truman   Jefferson   Polk
Wilson               FDR          Ike            Reagan       JFK
Washington    Obama   Madison   Nixon   McKinley
Garfield           Clinton    Taft         Adams   J.Q. Adams

Second draft: Beer
John                                 Rick                        Sparky                        Chris                 Tony
Negro Modelo        Sier Nev Pale        Innis & Gunn            Red Trolley         Fat Tire
Ballast Pt Sculpin   Shiner Bock   Sam Ad Winter Lag.    Boont Amber   Pliney Elder
Hamms Select       Arrogant Bastard       Smithwicks          Wookie Jack       805
Weinhardts     Miller High Life     Scrimshaw      Blackhawk Stout   Sam Ad Boston L

Third draft: Horror movies
Rick                                        John                    Tony              Sparky                  Chris
Friday the 13th                Halloween         Shining     Children of  Corn        Alien
Nightmare/Elm Street   Jaws             Poltergeist         Scream          Cabin in Woods
The Thing                      The Ring           The Grudge       Identity                 1408
Silence of Lambs   House 1,000 Corpses    The Others    Cujo             Donnie Darko

23:05 There’s a lot of 1990 Topps cards around the fire. I don’t think the bears care about 1990 Topps cards.

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Saturday:
7:00 Rick, Sparky awake.
7:09 “Where are my baseball cards?”
7:59 “I made a decision and it was probably a poor one.”
8:00 “On second thought, maybe I did yack last night.”
8:53 We have not seen John yet, but have heard rumors he is alive, so that’s good.
9:10 Breakfast complete. Trips to the shitter on the docket.
9:22 Someone left the lotion by the rimjob book.
9:54 John finally emerges
9:57 Official Motto of 2017 Camptathalon: Many decisions were made, and most were poor.
10:04 Event #2: Chipping
10:20 Standings: Rick – 8, Chris – 7, John – 6, Tony – 4, Sparky – 3
11:04 Mehkong comes out to play. Confidence is high (EDITOR’S NOTE: Chris brought some Thai rice whiskey. Much of it had been drunk Friday night, but not noted).
11:50 Event 3: Home Run Derby
12:05 Worst. Home Run Derby. Ever. First round: two with 0 HR, three with 1. Sparky beats Tony in the “Jack-Off” for last place, three jacks to one.

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12:36 Standings: John, Chris, and Rick – 11, Sparky- 5, Tony – 4
13:26 “It’s all gone downhill.”
13:37 Do we really have to do the fucking butter toss?
(Editor’s Note: Two hour time jump. Naps being taken.)
15:54 Oregon Trail card game: Non-sanctioned Camptathalon event. (Coop played earlier, forgot to timestamp)
16:15 Sparky dies of dysentery
16:20 Chris dies of snake bite.
16:31 Tony dies of snake bite.
16:34 Rick made it to Oregon.
16:35 Adventure Bocce
17:20 Sparky and John engage in a “Toss Off” to determine third place.
17:25 Standings: Rick – 18, Chris – 16, John – 13, Sparky – 12, Tony – 11
17:32 John’s first beer of the day. Don’t call it a comeback!
18:50 Final Event: Cards Against Humanity
19:00 John gets 7th card, finishes Camptathalon with 18.
19:10 Chris gets 7th card, finishes Camptathalon with 20 points. If Rick goes out next, he wins. If not, Chris wins. The tension is high.
19:17 Rick gets 7th card, finishes Camptathalon with 21 points and the victory.
19:18 Sparky finishes with 14 points, Tony with 11.
20:33 Tony yacks. That makes three of the five of us. 60% is passing.

Sunday
Put the wood in the bear locker. In case the bear has woodshop tomorrow.
Cheese Balls 2, Campers 0

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Camptathalon 2016

Wow, here we are already planning Camptathalon 2017 and I haven’t even updated the world with the results from 2016. I suck. But in my defense… nah, screw it.Here’s what happened last June.

Editor’s note: The campground right next to ours was called “Little Beaver Campground.” I’m sure you can already see where this is going.

Tony & Sparky arrived Thursday night.

Friday:
6:45 Sparky sleeps in. A Camptathalon record!
6:50 Tony wakes up early. A Camptathalon record!
7:40 The Official Camptathalon Flag is raised:IMG_1843.JPG

Oops, almost had an upside down cock.
7:52 The MacGyver Hammock has a door. “You sure you want it up that high if you’re going to be drinking?” (Editor’s Note: “MacGyver Hammock” in background of this picture, after it had been moved down)

IMG_1846

7:55 Donuts and Bear Claws – Breakfast of Champions
~9:00 Heading to town for ice. Did not stop on way in last night because it was dark and there was beer to be drunk.
9:45 Rick drives past us while we are trying to thieve WiFi from “hotel” in “town.”
9:55 Sparky: “There’s some really nice looking logs on the side of the road.”
9:59 Tony: “We have to put the other two pubes on ice. You can’t have a foursome with only two pubes.”0218171606

10:05 Of the four coolers we have, only the smallest one has food.
10:20 “Any request for music? I don’t feel like listening to status.” “Actually, I’m kind of in a static mood.”
10:41 “It’s called a piledriver…”
11:41 Chris arrives.
11:44 “We can all back up another six inches and maybe you’ll fit.”
12:23 Sparky’s MacGyver Hammock shall henceforth be known as “The Little Beaver.” In perpetuity.
12:42 Chris unveils memes:
IMG_1845
12:58 Camptathalon 2015 Champion Chris unveils Camptathalon Trophy in its Wisconsin Lunchbox.
13:01 Rick starts singing Frozen.
13:04 Tony tries to get WiFi on Chris’s camping chair.
13:35 “Demi Moore is from Roswell and her bush is what swallowed the UFO.”
13:55 “Where’s my koozie?” “It’s on my finger. I can fit three fingers inside your koozie.”
14:20 Tony claims his genitals will burn holes in the tablecloth.
14:26 Cheese Ball Bucket begins.
14:29 SOCIAL!
14:43 “I have three more guys to play with.”
14:48 Rick apologizes for farting and sheds a tear. (Editor’s Note: Rick wrote “Fuck you, Tony!” next to that note, perhaps questioning its veracity)
14:50 Chris needs more lotion on his mosquito bites. Sparky: “My 7th grade girlfriend had mosquito bites, too.”
14:57 Tony: “I can’t keep these (Cheese) Balls out of my mouth!”
15:00 Rick almost eats a Carcassonne piece because it is the same color as Cheese Balls.
15:02 “I brought some good beef jerky.” “Oh, I love some jerky.” (Pantomimes masturbation)
15:31 Rick: “This weekend is already crashing and burning.”
15:41 “Dick.” “Ass.” “It’s much too early for dick ass.” “Is it ever too early for dick ass?” “Not sure. Give me more Cheese Balls.”
16:06 This beats being at work.
17:03 “Did anyone bring a target?” “Your chest is a target.”
17:12 “As long as, every time someone takes a leak, they bring back wood, we’re good.”
17:28 Dinner is served.
18:27 Loser Libation revealed: Foster’s Oil Can. (Editor’s Note: The Loser Libation is picked by the Champion and must be consumed by the loser of the poker tournament)
18:28 Official Camptathalon Opening Toast: Pube Beer.
18:35 Chips out. Pic taken. Pube open. (Editor’s Note: While “pic taken” was written in the log, nobody present can’t account for said picture. Here’s the closest we can find: Camptathalon Toast
18:55 “Daniel-san. You cum too fast.”
18:58 “Give me a finger right there.”
19:24 “The Ol’ Ten-Ten. 1-0, 1-0. Everybody’s got a dick in their mouth.” “That will wake me up screaming in the middle of the night.” “You can’t scream with a dick in your mouth.”
20:03 We are not our fathers.
20:14 “Remember that time I picked you up in the lobby and we drank at Dick’s for two hours?”
20:38 Sparky is nearing Foster Territory.
20:50 “I’m finally on top of Tony and it feels good.”
21:28 Nobody out yet. Longest entry poker tourney ever.
21:34 Rick: “I haven’t looked at my cards yet. I’m putting on my vest.”
21:35 “See my vest, see my vest, made of real gorilla chest.”
21:44 Tony goes all in because he has to shit, gets trip-7’s.
22:03 Sparky and Tony all in. Sparky “wins” the Loser Libation.
22:45 Chris out.
22:46 Rick and Tony are tired. Ask permission to split top two point values. Request denied.
22:57 Tony beats Rick

Saturday
5:55 Tony up first. WTF?
6:25 Sparky up.
6:55 “I just realized I have tea bags. I could’ve had tea last night.” “Or we could just wake the other two up with tea bags.”
7:32 Tony throws teabag into Rick’s tent.
7:48 Chris emerges from tent, produces Dick Butt

Dick Butt

8:05 Breakfast. Forgot tortillas and can’t find cornbread, so it’s Breakfast Bowls.
8:20 Skid marks in the underwear. “Did you wipe your ass with your underwear?”
8:40 You can’t call it a nap when it’s 8:30 in the morning.
9:12 Hey, there’s the bear that took our fucking cornbread:Campting Bear
9:46 Sparky starts in on the second half of last night’s Fosters. “Not bad. Still some carbonation.”
9:51 Oh, hey. The cornbread is in the cooler.
10:06 First beer of the day opened.
10:20 Event Two: Whiffle Ball Home Run Derby.
10:30 Tony loses bottle opener ring while throwing whiffle ball.
10:37 Rick is really proud of his epic 2 Homeruns in the Derby.
10:40 First Round: Chris – 7, Tony – 6, Rick – 2 (Best Ever!), Sparky – 3 (Retired with only two outs used)
10:43 Cock ring found!
10:50 Second Round – Chris – 3, Tony – 4 (with six outs used); Sparky – 4 (with seven outs used)
11:06 Final Round – Tony 6, Sparky – 3
11:07 After two events, Tony -8 pts, Sparky – 2, Rick – 2, Chris – 2
11:30 Oh hey, Cornbread!
11:31 Event Three: Adventure Bocce
11:51 “Guys, don’t scuff my balls.”
12:07 Adventure Bocce results: Chris – 11, Tony – 9, Rick – 7 (Won the “Toss-Off”), Sparky – 7
12:08 After three events: Tony  – 10, Chris – 6, Rick – 3, Sparky – 2.
12:15 Sammiches.
12:35 Margaritas: A Toast to Scurvy and Dick-Butt.
Dick Butt
12:40 Margaritas are classy when they come out of a 2-liter Sprite bottle.
12:54 Event Four: Slingshot
13:19 Slingshot targets: Adele Fan Meme, Nicholas Cage, Grumpy Cat
13:50 After Four Events: Tony – 10, Chris – 8, Rick – 7, Sparky – 3
14:20 Anne Heche is a pretty good looking dude.
14:36 Event Five: Chipping
15:07 Standings: Chris – 12, Tony – 10, Rick – 8, Sparky – 5
15:08 Tony has come in fourth of every competition since margaritas began. Rubs frisbee golf frisbee on his nads.
15:40 Event Six: The Butter Toss (at Leonardo DiCaprio’s chin) (Editor’s Note: No results recorded, but we did get a picture of the end results)
Leo

15:50 Final Event: Cards Against Humanity
15:57 “I had semen. I thought semen would work.”
16:07 With “Stephen Hawking talking dirty,” Chris wins Camptathalon 2016.
16:12 I think about the Underground Railroad during sex.
16:16 The random draw has won twice in a row. (Editor’s Note: They would throw one randomcard in from the draw pile to see if it was funnier than anything they could come up with. Clearly it was.)
16:21 Sparky places second in Cards Against Humanity with “Smegma.”
16:22 Tony takes third with “My Black Ass.”
16:44 Social: “I drink to forget (Blank).”
17:17 The bet is over. We have all lost. The Cheese Balls still exist and reign supreme.
18:09 There is a clearing house in Tony’s ass.
18:21 Sno Balls appear to be made out of napalm. That have a skin flap like a vagina, but are not as flavorful.
18:22 General disagreement over definition of felching. No Urban Dictionary access at 5,000 feet.

Sunday
Butter still on Leo’s chin

Cheese Balls still exist. Saying “Fuck you, motherfuckers. We’re still here!”
Hey look! Cornbread!
And I’ll miss you most of all, Dick Butt.

Dick Butt

Camptathalon 2015

Last week, I described what Camptathalon is. This year, instead of trying to summarize (and remember) everything that happened after the fact, I decided to bring along a notebook and write down things as they happened. What follows is a transcript. I shall not provide any context. Although I will say that there was no pulled pork. Not sure what the 8:17 comment was in reference to, but we felt it was important enough to write down.

Friday:

2:00 (via walkie talkie between cars): “I forgot the cigars, let’s get some when we get ice.”

2:22 Hell no, we are NOT getting Swisher Sweets.

3:15 (via walkie talkie) “This 5-Hour Energy tastes like Chapstick on an Asshole.”

4:00ish – First campsite full. On to backup site.

4:30ish – Second campsite full. On to super-secret secluded campsite.

5:15 (via walkie talkie): “A virgin would lose her damned hymen on this road.”

5:30ish – Finally arrive at campsite.

5:58 – First missing beer.

6:01 – Beer found in the cab of the truck.

6:25 – Opening ceremony. Toast of Innis & Gunn, unveiling of Camptathalon trophy.

6:56 – Rick asks to borrow Tony’s finger.

7:05 – Breathalyzer instructions: In 30 seconds, put it into your mouth and blow.

7:07 – “You don’t have to blow so hard.”

7:34 – “Just blew a .29. Either the breathalyzer is wrong or I’m clinically dead.”

8:15 – Poker cards flying through the air.

8:17 – “There can never be enough pulled pork.”

9:04 – Premature Mickey’s action. Rick opened the bottle after all in but before the hand was over, still in the game.

9:16 – Rick must now drink the Mickey’s.

9:43 – Rick has ZERO fucks to give.

9:47 – Rick predicted his Blood Alcohol Content correctly. Is still drinking the Mickey’s.

9:51 – An Ace/King is called an Anna Kournikova – it looks really good, but never wins.

9:53 Fartathalon begins with Chris farting in Tony’s face.

9:54 – Stale Oreos are still pretty good.

9:59 – “Cocknose!”

10:00 – Three Rules of Engagement: 1. If she smokes, she fucks. 2. If she’s not up to your standards, lower your standards. 3. No girl is ugly with your balls on her chin.”

10:04 – Should Rule 1 be changed to “If she has a tattoo, she fucks?”

10:11 – Sparky places third in poker.

10:13 – Tony is winning the Fartathalon by leaps and bounds.

10:20 – “The beginning of the Mickey’s was much better than the end of it.”

10:54 – The chip bag is overinflated because of altitude.

10:55 – “Grab it gently. Can I take some chips out of the back door?”

11:15 – Night One over.

Saturday

7:52 – Rick reveals Official Camptathalon socks: Black with gold “BEER” on side)

8:01 – Chris reveals Official Camptathalon T-Shirt (White with red “SHIT” on front)

8:11 – Rick says he needs Tony’s tool (Bottle opener)

8:15 – Rick is glad he didn’t have leakage.

8:16 – First beer of Day Two is cracked open.

8:20 – Breakfast Burritos served

8:56 – Radio turned on. Only station that can be found is playing “Dukes of Hazzard” theme.

10:00 – 2nd Honorary Toast, opening Day Two. Event #2, Slingshot.

10:02 – “I’m feeling tipsy at ten A.M.”

10:30 – Multiple jokes about hitting the can (with the slingshot).

“You hit the can on the bottom.”

“My finger hurts.” “That’s because you’re gripping it too tight.” “That’s not what you said last night.”

10:42 – “It takes every inch of you.”

10:51 – “Let’s play Liar’s Dice to see who gets bottm.”

10:54 – That last fart was a 3.5 on the Shart Potential Scale.

11:00 – Standings after two events: Tony – 6, Chris – 4, Sparky – 1, Rick – 1

12:23 – “Oh, you have salami? I LOVE salami.”

1:00 – Frisbee Golf will replace Chipping because Rick brought his golf club, but no golf balls. Can we chip wiffle balls instead?

1:28 – “I’ll be Nolan Ryan. You can be Robin Ventura.”

2:00 – After Frisbee Golf, Chris – 7, Tony – 7, Sparky – 2, Rick – 1

2:05 – First round of breathalyzer of Day Two

2:30 – Sparky finally enters the Fartathalon.

2:50 – After Wiffle Ball Home Run Derby, Chris – 10, Tony – 8, Sparky – 4, Rick – 1

3:00 – Risk. A non-sanctioned/exhibition Camptathalon event.

3:07 – Bust open the Reese’s peanut butter cup Chips Ahoy cookies.

3:10 – “These cookies are gonna last as long as a virgin on prom night.”

3:23 – Cookies are gone

3:44 – “Did you go swimming in the mountain lake at 8,500 feet?” “Yeah, it’s brisk.”

4:26 – “Three 1’s when attacking Alaska from Kamchatka? Fuck you, Sarah Palin!”

4:50 – Sparky just blew a .00. “Get this man a beer, stat!”

4:54 – Mom jokes are okay, wife jokes are not.

5:26 – Triple aces again, this time Egypt attacking Southern Europe.

5:27 – Just checked the timestamp, we’ve been playing Risk for two and a half hours.

7:30 – After changing/lowering the point target five times, horseshoes are FINALLY over. Standings: Chris – 11, Tony – 8, Sparky – 4, Rick – 2

7:35 – Tri-tip for dinner.

7:50 – Final event is Farkle – if Chris places anywhere other than last, he wins his first Camptathalon.

7:56 – “Touche, asshole.”

7:58 – Wussification imminent.

8:30 – A Sparky Farkle secures a third place Farkle finish for Chris, securing his first Camptathalon victory.

8:31 – Congratulations Chris. Now we can stop recording and timestamping everything.

10:45 – “Hashtag Black Marshmallows Matter.”

Camptathalon

Back in January, I made reference to something called Camptathalon, and said I would re-visit this phenomenon in April. Of course, April rolled around and there was no Camptathalon post. Part of that omission was due to teaching an AP class fourth quarter, which is a tad bit brutal. But the other reason was that Camptathalon itself was pushed back from its original April date to later in the summer.

You see, Camptathalon moves around the calendar each year, much like other hallowed holidays, such as Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas.

(Okay, I’m being told that Christmas falls on the same day every year, so strike that last reference.)

But whereas Easter takes place on the Sunday following the first full moon of Spring, Camptathalon falls on a much more logical weekend – whenever our wives let us out/want us out of the house for the whole weekend.

I imagine the original Easter weekend went the same way.

“Oh gosh, Jesus, you want to do the Last Supper this Thursday? I mean, I’d love to go, but if I don’t get this camel shit shoveled, the old lady’s gonna crucify me… Hey, where are you going, Jesus? Was it something I said?”

Camptathalon officially began three years ago. While there had always been camping trips, some were just the men, some included significant others and/or children. But three years ago, one of my friends had a baby on the way, and the showering of said baby seemed like a perfect time for just the malefolk to get the hell out of Dodge.

Unfortunately, the father-to-be was unable to attend that year, because his wife decided that the father should be attend the baby shower. I’m not sure on which planet someone with a penis should be playing any “guess the poopy” games. But I do know that on this planet, if your third-trimester pregnant wife tells you to come to the baby shower, you come to the fucking baby shower.

And your asshole friends go on the designated camping trip without you. Hey, at least we had the decency to “pour one out for our missing homey.” I’ve also had a friend cancel own his bachelor party in Reno once. Too bad. He missed a great time.

So three years ago, four city slickers met up at a Quick-E-Mart on the way to the foothills. We loaded up on the vital nutritional elements and four basic food groups of any camping trip. You know, chips, jerky, and beer. Wait, that’s only three? Okay, double the beer.

One guy, who swears he’s been camping since the sixties, showed up with only three items: a pillow, a bow and arrow, and a bottle of vodka.

And, lo, Camptathalon was born.

As the name implies, Camptathalon includes some competitive elements. A series of events, running the gamut from moderately athletic all the way to quasi-intellectual.  Each year, there are between 3-7 events, depending on the amount of time or sobriety available. The lineup of events changes slightly from year to year, based on factors like who remembered to bring what sporting good or if the goddamn camp host will let us shoot the goddamn bow and arrow.

Some events take a year or two off, then return. Frisbee golf has made it in twice. The golf club was left at home one year, making chipping difficult. Same story with horseshoes. Totaling our gambling winnings requires the campsite to be within driving distance of Nevada (one Camptathalon was held on Kentucky Derby weekend, another during the Belmont Stakes). Whiffle Ball Home Run Derby almost missed a year, but fortunately, it was one of the years we had to go into Nevada to bet on horses, so we were able to buy a new bat (cheaper than a new golf club).

One event, the pine cone toss for distance, was tried once and will never see the light of Camptathalon day again, after we all tore our hands up. Turns out a pine cone isn’t as smooth and aerodynamic as a football. Did I mention we drink beer?

But a few staple events are always included, year in and year out. On Friday night, after making camp, we unravel the Camptathalon trophy and open and toast the honorary first beer (not the actual first beer, but the honorary one). After this, we engage in a $10 Texas Hold ‘em tournament. This is the Iowa Caucus of Camptathalon weekend. Unlike the Caucus, the loser of the poker tourney doesn’t have to remove himself from the Camptathalon running. However, we have implemented an even harsher punishment than giving up on your dreams of the White House. The loser must consume some horrific alcoholic libation. Last year it was pocket whiskey from a pouch. This year it will be a 40 oz. of Mickey’s left over from my 40th birthday party.

Home run derby has always been included, but as I referenced before, its run has been tenuous, what with the difficult requirement of us remembering both a bat and a ball.

But the one event that always must occur, the one requirement to make an officially sanctioned Camptathalon Trip, is the Butter Toss. What is the Butter Toss, you ask? Well, you see, we take some butter, and… follow me, now… we toss it. For accuracy, not distance, because tossing butter for distance would just be silly. Think of darts, except replace the darts with tablespoon slices of stick butter.

We’re not sure how melty the butter is supposed to be. The originator of the Butter Toss brought only a pillow and vodka to the trip. Much like The Greatest American Hero, he must’ve lost the Butter Toss instruction book. What we do know is that the first time we did it, we purchased the butter on the way to the casino. By the time the gambling was done and we were back at the campsite, the butter had been sitting in a car trunk under the beautiful Nevada summer sky for a few hours. What we removed from the trunk was effectively butter soup. We tried to solidify the slough in the icechest, but the globules we ended up heaving at the front cover of The Economist were still somewhere south of solid.

Ever since Year One, we have intentionally softened the butter. It’s never been as messy as the first time (the type of phrase that might pop up at a Camptathalon), but if a sizeable percentage of the butter isn’t still clinging to your hand and dripping between your fingers after the toss, you ain’t doin’ it right.

Points are awarded for placing in each event (5 points for 1st, 3 points for 2nd, etc.) We keep a running total of the scores as the weekend progresses. Last year, we had a tie at the end, so we played a sudden death cribbage match. Yours truly came from behind with back-to-back 20+-point hands.

The trophy sits in front of the scoreboard for the entire weekend, then goes home with the winner. It is a pine cone that might or might not have been used in Year One’s ill-fated pine cone toss. The wives have bedazzled it a bit over the years, such that it now features ribbons with beer bottle caps that we can write our name on when we win it. Just like the Stanley Cup. When not on display, it now rests in a Wisconsin Lunchbox. Not the drink or the sexual position (look it up if you dare), but an actual lunchbox sporting the Wisconsin Badgers logo. That was my contribution.

My reign as Camptathalon is almost at an end. I bucked one trend by being the first champion to make it through the weekend without puking. Might I make history again by becoming the first repeat champion? And what will be the motto of this year’s Camptathalon?

In a few years, when this event is covered on ESPN and Network TV, this is the point where the sportscaster will say… “We’ll find out. That’s why they play the game.”

Old Year’s Resolutions

This time of year, like many others, I like to take stock of my life and make some resolutions.

Except that I’ve always hated resolutions. My eighth grade teacher used to make us copy a quote each week, and sometimes she made us make up our own quotes, which we were too young to counter with “anything I say is a quote from me.” I remember the prompt the Monday after Winter Break: “This year I will _____________.” I filled in the blank with “make it to ninth grade.”

My teacher responded that that wasn’t really a resolution, as it was likely to happen anyway. Had I more self-confidence or experience in remonstrating, I might have asked why we should only resolving something that is not likely to happen.  Why did she want me to avoid accomplishing my Resolution? Why was she setting us up for disaster? Why did she want a bunch of thirteen year olds to start off a fresh new year by failing?

Because guess what? I ain’t gonna lose weight or learn a new musical instrument or write a novel or travel to outer space. Some of those might be doable, but January 1 has no bearing on if and when I decide to do them.  For instance, I started this blog in June and didn’t start posting weekly until September.  Had this been one of my New Year’s Resolutions, it would likely be deemed a failure, because we tend to determine their success or failure by the middle of January, not the end of the year.  So they’re really not New Year’s Resolutions, at all. They’re First Week of the New Year’s Resolutions.

You pick something you don’t like about yourself and say you’re going to change it because the calendar switched. But that thing you don’t like about yourself isn’t going to change because of something arbitrary. Willpower isn’t tied to a date on the calendar. Especially if you take something like losing weight, which is much easier to do in April or May, as the days get warmer and longer.

So I’ve decided to switch things up a bit, and instead of a New Year’s Resolution, I’m looking back and making some Old Year’s Resolutions. I am going to take a look back at the cool new things I’ve tried or accomplished over the past twelve months and make some belated resolutions. And, spoiler alert, I nailed every single one of them!

But, Wombat, isn’t that just a Year-in-Review? You may ask.

And my response is…

Shut up! My blog, my rules.

Resolution #1: I will have a wonderful baby girl.

Considering my wife was three months pregnant on January 1, this one might be close to my “make ninth grade” resolution. But a lot can go wrong in the second and third trimesters. Plus we did not know it was going to be a girl until ten days into the year, so had I tried to make this resolution at the proper time, I would have had a 50/50 chance of failing at the very beginning.

Of course, the more I think about it, I don’t have much to add to the whole “have a baby” thing. My part was finished in 2013, and if things go south, there isn’t much my resolve can do. My wife is doing the heavy lifting for the first six months of 2014.

So maybe I should change it to I will begin to raise a wonderful baby girl.

Yeah, I like that better. That’s something I can actually resolve to do.

Resolution #2: Take up curling.

In January, the Winter Olympics were still a month away.

Gosh, I wonder if they are going to be exciting! I’m sure the Russians will have beautiful Sochi in perfect condition for the wonderful athletes who have trained so hard to get there.

Hey, remember when I did that Learn-to-Curl back in 2013? That was fun. I wonder if I can find a place closer to home and recruit some friends to try it in February. If that’s successful, maybe a couple of us can join a league. And if we get paired with some veterans, maybe we can begin learning the ropes and go undefeated throughout the summer season.

Then maybe I can form my own team and skip during a bonspiel against really good curlers. Like maybe even a couple of those curlers that are going to spend February in those swanky Sochi hotels. Then maybe I could win a do-or-die, skip-vs-skip, closest-to-the-button tiebreaker at 2:00 AM for the right to advance in the loser’s bracket.

If all that happens, who knows, maybe I’ll end the year by asking for expensive curling shoes for Christmas and prepping my hand-picked team for an elongated Winter/Spring season in 2015, forcing my wife to coin the phrase “Curling Widow.” But the “Future Curling Star” onesie I would get for my daughter (see Resolution #1) for Christmas would be super cute.

But that’s crazy. I doubt all of that would happen in one year.

Resolution #3: Lose More Weight.

This is always the scary one, right? But let me tell you, it’s a lot less nerve-racking to make this resolution after the fact.

I lost a lot of weight in 2013. A pre-diabetes diagnosis and a new-fangled invention called the Fitbit put my ass (or, more accurately, my legs and mouth) in gear, and by early October, I was down close to forty pounds. Then Halloween hit, followed by Thanksgiving and Christmas. Combined with those shorter, colder days I mentioned earlier, and about ten of those forty pounds found their way back by the end of the year. But that meant I was still down thirty over the course of the year.

Could I repeat that in 2014? Probably not to the extreme I had the year before. After all, there was less to lose. And all those nasty indicators in my blood have returned back to normal levels. But still…

If I can go back to the Spring and Summer routines I kept in ’13, maybe I can take those ten added pounds back off by June. Then maybe I can take another ten to fifteen pounds off before Halloween kicks off Fat Quarter (which extends past the New Year to include Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day) again. That Fat Quarter will be even harder this year, because while I might be willing to go for a jog in the forty-degree dark when I get home from work, I’m not quite as willing to take the baby along.

But, hey,  if I can lose twenty-plus pounds by October, then I can still gain ten to fifteen back and still be weight-negative for the year.

Resolution #4: Win Camptathalon.

Every year amongst my friends, there exists a Men’s Camping Trip. Because when womenfolk come camping, we have to take more than five paces away from the fire before we drop trou and pee, and I’m sorry, but that just ain’t true campin’.

At said trip each year, there is something called the Camptathalon.

What is it? Only the most grueling competition of wit, acumen, and bravado known to mankind. Think Triathlon, but take out the wussified events like swimming and biking and running. And add things like Whose Horse Comes in Last at the Kentucky Derby. And the Butter Toss.

Oh, and the whole thing needs to be done as inebriated as possible.

Wait, did you say Butter Toss?

I did. And to find out more, you’ll just have to check back in April, when I devote an entire entry to the 2015 Camptathalon.

(That’s what the promotions biz peeps call a teaser.  “What common household object might kill you? Stay tuned until the end of this blog entry to find out.”)

But this year, I plan to win the competition. I came in dead last in 2013. I think I was second or third the year before. But this year, with the competition being held the same weekend as my wife’s baby shower, I feel it is my time to strike.

What would be even cooler is if it was tied at the end of regulation, forcing us to make up a sudden-death cribbage match to decide it all. And if I could be losing said sudden-death cribbage match going into the final turn before pulling out a 21-point hand and a 24-point hand back-to-back. Why, that would almost be as cool as winning a sudden death draw to the button at a curling bonspiel.

If I could also be the first ever Camptathalon champion to not yack his guts out the same weekend, that might be an added bonus. That’s a tradition that need not be continued. Unlike the Butter Toss, which is a tradition as true as the Tournament of Roses.

Butter Toss? Am I sure I’m hearing you right?

April, dude. April.

Resolution #5: Win in Reno

Every year, I make a few trips to Reno. This year, 2014, I’d like to win there.

To be clear, my definition of “win” does not mean to hit a jackpot or win a car or come home with a duffel bag full of cash. I don’t even define winning as being money-ahead at the end of the year. I know the math – giant resorts would not exist in the middle of the desert if customers won over the long run.

What I mean by “win” is I’d like to take one weekend trip wherein, after paying for gas, food, and my portion of the hotel, I’m still money ahead. Is the forty dollars I might win in October going to offset the two hundred I’m going to lose at March Madness? Of course not. But man, that forty dollars would feel awesome, like I’m a world killer! Something definitely worthy of being mentioned in a Year-In-Review,  Retroactive Old Year’s Resolution.

Here is how I would love for this particular resolution to play out. I’d like to win a little bit at everything I do. Put $20 in a slot machine, turn it into $60. Put $2 on a long-shot horse to show and have him eke out third place. Stick around a blackjack table long enough to get buzzed on the casino’s dime yet still walk away up $10. Actually feel like I know what I’m talking about when all of those sports results go final. That would be nice.

To keep with the curling and Camptathalon theme, I don’t know if any of those games I bet on can go to overtime, but maybe I could squeak out a photo finish on the ponies.

Resolution #6: Write.

I’d like to write more this year.

Maybe I can try NaNoWriMo again this year. Even if I only get 20,000 words into a novel, it would be an improvement over 38 of the last 39 years.

Maybe I could even take part in some flash fiction challenges. Writing an entire story from beginning to end might give me a sense of accomplishment. That way, I could also play around with different genres, different voices, different points of view. Who knows? Maybe after I’ve tried a few safe ones, like a standard scary story, I might even write a story from the point-of-view of a female drug addict.

Hey, remember that blog I used to have? I stopped writing anything on it in 2008. right around the time I joined Facebook, because why write a thousand words when I can write fifteen and get immediate gratifica-, er, feedback?

But seriously, in 2014, maybe I can start that up again. Then maybe after a few flash fictions there, I can start up a new one on wordpress instead. And get back to actual blogging in addition to flash fiction.

Maybe I could even make myself post a new entry every week. Sure, it’s arbitrary, but maybe there will be some weeks I don’t feel like writing, like maybe Christmas week, and then all of a sudden it’ll be Monday, and I’ll be like, “oh shit, I have to post a blog entry,” and then I’ll actually write instead of just putting it off. I mean, it could happen. And even if it only works for, like, the last fifteen weeks of the year, what would that be? Twenty thousand words? Thirty thousand? To add to the twenty thousand in the novel? Throw in some of the earlier flashes and I’d be over sixty thousand words written in a year.

Shit, that might almost feel like an accomplishment. ”Hey,” I’ll tell everyone, “I wrote what Ken Follett writes in his sleep!”

It also might be cool to learn how to hyperlink.

On to 2015.

Wow. If I could have made all of those resolutions in January, and followed through on all of them, what a cool year it would have become.

And if so, what would be in store for 2015? What plans should I make? Only one way to find out – wait until next December.

See you all in the New Year

By the way, it was a knife. A knife is a common household object that might kill you. Thanks for staying with us.